SALT LAKE CITY — Tory Wilson loves to go big.
And on a snowy Saturday night in front of 14,129 fans at the Huntsman Center, the sophomore who was competing as an all-around gymnast for the first time in her collegiate career went so big, she surpassed even her own expectations.
Not only did she score a perfect 10 on vault, she won the all-around competition with a score of 39.475.
"I came to Utah wanting to be an all-arounder, and I just reached one of my goals tonight," she said after the Utes defeated Cal with their highest score of the season, 197.050-192.750. "That thrilled me, and I loved it."
Utah co-coach Greg Marsden said it isn't unusual for a gymnast to win an all-around competition in her first effort. But what makes Wilson's win unique is that this time last year she was only contributing on vault.
Still, Marsden wasn't exactly surprised at her performance, which included the first perfect 10 on vault since Ashley Postell earned two in 2008. It was, incidentally, the first perfect 10 in any event for Wilson, and it marks the fifth-straight victory on vault for the nation's top-ranked vaulter.
But despite her obvious skill, Marsden wasn't leaving anything to chance before Wilson made her all-around debut.
"I talked to her before the meet," said Marsden. "She tends to be a really aggressive athlete."
Wilson is so powerful, she can try too hard and "overdo things," he said. "I told her to try to stay in the moment, relax and stay in control. Don't try to make it bigger, be more aggressive, and we'll live with whatever the outcome is."
While her performance wasn't perfect in three of the our events, it was impressive.
"She didn't make a lot of mistakes tonight," Marsden said. "She was pretty good. She was real good."
And she wasn't the only one.
Mary Beth Lofgren and Nansy Damianova scored personal bests on vault with 9.875s. Damianova also won bars and scored a personal best on the event with the same score, 9.875. Four gymnasts set personal records on the floor, including Wilson.
Sophomore Georgia Dabritz bounced back from a fall on bars to win the beam competition with a score of 9.90 and she set a team record of 9.975 in winning the night's floor competition.
"That was big for her to get back in and hit beam tonight and start to rebuild her confidence on that event," Marsden said.
Remember, this is a team reeling after losing All-American and co-captain Corrie Lothrop to a torn Achilles last week.
But both Ute gymnasts and coaches were determined that Lothrop's tragedy wouldn't devastate the team's season. "I challenged them," said Marsden. "What happened last week to (Corrie) was tragic for Corrie. But we've got to move forward, and I'm going to challenge you to not only try to replace Corrie's scores, but to find a way to be even better. At least in scores we did that."
Another reason for the team's season-best score was the return of Kassandra Lopez on beam. She was injured just before the first meet of the season and has been restricted to competing on bars while her calf healed.
Late Saturday afternoon, however, Marsden put her back in the beam lineup, a move that paid off when she earned the second-highest score of the night — 9.80.
"She really stepped up," said Marsden. I didn't even think that was a possibility. She made progress everyday, and she learned a new dismount so she'd be able to compete."
Lopez said Lothrop's injury motivated her to find a way to contribute more.
"I needed to do this for my team," she said. "I needed to go out there. I feel like the team needs me to be back, and that was my goal. I'm really happy."
Twitter: adonsports Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company